Traditional origins of populist political discourse in Türkiye: a visual discourse analysis on Erdoğan’s Instagram posts

Zararsız Ö. F., Seyhan A. S.

Review of Communication, vol.24, no.1, pp.36-57, 2024 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 24 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/15358593.2023.2276394
  • Journal Name: Review of Communication
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus, ComAbstracts, Communication Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.36-57
  • Keywords: political communication, populism, populist political discourse, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, visual discourse analysis
  • Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University Affiliated: Yes


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is recognized as one of the world’s populist politicians who are steadily increasing in number around the world. During Erdoğan’s 22 years in power, Türkiye first experienced a period of significant economic and democratic growth, which was then significantly reversed with the 2016 coup attempt and the presidential government system that Türkiye adopted based on a referendum. Simultaneously with this regression in Türkiye, the content and opportunities offered by social media applications have improved. Appropriately, politicians attach more importance to these platforms for political communication. Although the number of studies in the field of political communication is increasing, visual political communication is not being widely researched. Erdoğan’s Instagram posts are important examples of his populist political understanding within the scope of visual political communication. Hence, in this study, 242 image posts shared by Erdoğan via his Instagram account in 2022, which constitute a total of 685 photos due to Instagram’s feature of sharing multiple photos per post, were analyzed. It was found that Erdoğan made significant use of Instagram visuals in constructing his image as “one of the people” and as a tool to maintain his claim to masses that he was “one of them.”.